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Run And Not Be Weary (Business Version)

May 17, 2019

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

I’m a Senior Program Manager. That means that I “own” a program for my company. That “program” is our technical relationship with an important client. That means if something breaks, I’m expected to “own” it until it’s resolved.

It means I’m on call 24×7. Often that’s not an issue. (Our systems are well designed and utilize redundant systems.) But, it’s computers, so stuff goes wrong. It’s been a busy week in that respect. We have a new corporate Vice President. She was reaching out to me today for status on an issue,

I appreciate you following up on this one. I know you’ve put in a lot of extra hours this week. Hopefully, you can rest this weekend.

She said that last part because last week I spent both Saturday and Sunday on the phone working an issue. And, we had an unusually high number of issues this week.

But, the fact is, I was fine. My boss commented on it,

Rodney, how are you doing through this?

Honestly, Dave, I’m doing great. You know me. Crisis management doesn’t really phase me.

It’s a good thing, too. If I weren’t good at crisis management I’d have burned out long ago. I sometimes get asked how I do it. The key is to be Jay, not Kay. (Think “Men In Black.”)

At one point Jay, played by Tommy Lee Jones, is chastizing Kay, played by Will Smith,

We do not discharge our weapons in view of the public!

Man, we ain’t got time for this cover-up BS! I don’t know whether or not you’ve forgotten, but there’s an Arquillian Battle Cruiser that’s about to. . .

There is always an Arquillian Battle Cruiser, or a Corillian Death Ray, or an intergalactic plague that is about to wipe out all life on this miserable little planet, the only way these people can get on with their happy lives is that they do not know about it!

Kay, understood that each crisis is part of a pattern. Yes, you have to deal with the Arquillian Battle Cruiser today, but you still need to be ready for what’s coming next.

You have to keep going.

My son is a runner. On the track team he runs the 400 meter sprint. But, he’s also on the cross country team. The cross country meets have a track that is about 3 miles long. It takes a completely different mindset to run a cross country course than to run a sprint. In a sprint you put all your energy into going as fast as you can as quickly as you can. To successfully run a cross country race, you have to pace yourself. If you try to sprint your way through, you’ll burn out.

My job is a marathon, not a sprint.

Sometimes people misunderstand my reaction. The more hectic and stressful the situation becomes, the more calm I become and the more I practice deliberate actions.

During the past week, the issues at work have intruded on my home life more than a little. I had a therapy session on Tuesday. My son needed to be picked up in Layton on Wednesday. And of course there was Mother’s day on Sunday. And work itself was chaotic. My phone was never more than an armslength away and often I was on multiple calls at once. (Three was the most, but I’ve done four in the past.)

My lovely wife can do many things I cannot do. But, watching me balance work and home life this week, she said,

I’m glad you like your job. I couldn’t do what you do.

That’s okay, I can’t do what she does. Not even close.

But, the trick is to be deliberate. I’m pretty good at crisis management. I can quickly triage situations and find the critical path to success.

The title of this post comes from the book of Isaiah, in the Old Testament.

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
– Isaiah 40:31

And that’s really the key. Run at a speed that you can keep up without becoming weary. Take time to renew your strength. Mount up on those eagle’s wings when you need to. And when you are weary and beaten down, just keep putting one foot in front of the other; walk and not faint.

The earlier quote is from Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” where the narrator is giving his son advice. It finishes with the promise

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

Or a Program Manager

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2019 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Here’s is Kipling’s beautiful poem in its entirety

If (by Rudyard Kipling)

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

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